What is a program extension?

A program extension is the process of obtaining a new I-20 for F-1 students to extend a student's authorized period of stay in the United States. A program extension is appropriate when a student is unable to complete the original study objective before the expiration date on the current I-20. F-1 students, to review your program expiration date, please refer to section 5 of your I-20.

Who is eligible for a program extension?

You are eligible for program extension if you:
(1) have been enrolled full time throughout your period of studies (or have an approved Reduced Course Load request on file for each applicable semester),
(2) have otherwise maintained your immigration status,
(3) the additional time is needed for academic& or medical reasons. Academic reason means that the extension is required for completing the degree requirements only. Extensions should not be requested for the purpose of permitting a student to complete final classes for a minor when all other requirements for the degree and major(s) are met.

Who is not eligible for program extension?

You are not eligible for an extension if:

  • You have been dismissed from the university. If you have been dismissed, you may want to discuss your options with an ISSS adviser. Or,
  • You have ever been enrolled less than full-time and do not have an approved Reduced Course Load request on file with the ISSS. Or,
  • You have completed all terms of your program of study and simply wish to delay graduation. Or,
  • You are out of status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in any way.

When should I seek a program extension?

The regulations require F students to obtain an extension before the expiration date on their current I-20. The best time period to apply for an extension is generally 1-3 months prior to the expiration of your document. Students who fail to obtain the extension before the I-20 expires are considered "out of status" and must seek reinstatement. Reinstatement can require a long processing period, during which time a student cannot legally be employed, even on campus. Reinstatement may be difficult to obtain, even for simple reasons like “forgetting” that your I-20 expired.

What are the consequences of failure to obtain a program extension?

If you forget the deadline and apply late, you will be “out of status”. If you are employed and overlook the date, you WILL be working “illegally” and may begin accruing “unlawful presence.” Such mistakes will jeopardize prospects for obtaining employment authorization, extensions of stay, and obtaining permanent resident status. They could even lead to being banned from entering the United States.

What is the procedure for obtaining a program extension?

Ideally, you should begin this process at least one month before your I-20 expires (and preferably earlier than that)

  1. Login to your iHawk account (click the blue login button) using your HawkID and password. Go to "F-1 Student Services" and complete the e-form"Program Extension Request."
    • The e-form will require you to submit updated financial documentation. Possible documentation could be a bank statement (issued within the last 6 months) or offer letter for a graduate assistantship (indicating stipend and exact amount of tuition scholarship if applicable). ISSS cannot process your extension without updated financial documentation.
  2. Once you complete the e-form, your academic advisor will need to review it. Your advisor will receive an email message from ISSS which will provide a link to review your request. Your advisor will be asked to comment on your request.
    • If you are advised by the Academic Advising Center, you must make an appointment to meet with your advisor before they will approve the e-form request.
    • If you are advised in an academic department, your departmental advisor may also prefer that you schedule an appointment to meet with them; it is a good idea to inform your academic advisor that an email has been sent from the ISSS that will need to be reviewed
  3. After your academic advisor comments on your e-form request, an ISSS advisor will review your request. If there are no questions regarding your request, an ISSS advisor will approve the e-form and issue a new I-20 with a later Program End Date.